Research Reflections, and other thoughts

Hope all of you are managing your projects well. I anticipated some of this, but it’s been striking to me how much research there is for us to do. I feel like my topic is a little broad, so I’m focused now on trying to do as much research as I can without biting off more than I can chew and overwhelming the project. To do this, I wonder if I can come up with a reasonable, representative sample of sources, become an expert in their philosophies through reading their insight and glean some overarching themes from their work. So far I’ve gone mostly to longform journalists, but my next task is to dive into the Paris Review’s series of interviews with fiction writers to see what interesting things they have to say. And, I’m finding it helpful to use sources to get to more sources. For instance, one first-person essay I read praised the teachings of John Franklin in the book Writing for Story, which was a source I already planned on investigating, so writers’ knowledge of other writers has proven useful. If any of you have ideas about where to go for good advice from writers on writing, I’d love to hear them.

One challenge I’m facing now is the introduction. The structure of my writing will consist of first an introduction, in which I explain what this project is about; followed by alternating sections, half with stories and half with assessments of other writers’ stories. I have a good story planned as an example that kind of served as the inspiration for this project — one that I experienced while reporting a story but that I never got to tell because of space constraints. I was originally thinking that would be the first story of my project, coming right after the introduction. But then I thought it might be good to include it in the introduction so that readers understand my purpose for this project and what I mean when I talk about stories. So I tried the draft of the introduction with that story in it, and I think I’ll sleep on it and see what I think about it.

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